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Barnegat Inlet Safety Zone During North Jetty Repair Will Be Implemented If Necessary
The work by Agate Construction to repair the jetty will continue all summer, and the U.S. Coast Guard said in a press release March 29 that boat traffic would be narrowed to one lane if a safety zone has to be activated.
Since then, recreational boaters on social media have been wondering how a one-lane traffic flow would be enforced, and whether traffic would back up in the inlet. Contacted by The SandPaper this week for clarification, a Coast Guard representative from the Barnegat Light station said that first of all, much will depend on results of a current dredging project by the dredge Murden. The Murden is scooping up shoaling in the inlet.
On Monday, Petty Officer John Kopp stressed it is not yet definite that the safety zone will be implemented. “A safety zone will be activated if necessary, depending on the results of the dredging,” he said. “Right now, the dredge Murden is trying to knock out significant shoaling on the southern two-thirds of the inlet between the North and South Jetty, and then depending on how safe that makes navigation, then the safety zone will either be activated or modified,” Kopp said.
The exact wording of the press release issued Saturday is that “depending on the results of this dredging,” a safety zone will be activated “that encompasses the entire Barnegat Inlet.” If the safety zone is activated, the following will not be permitted: “swimming, diving, fishing, mooring, anchoring, passing and overtaking other transiting vessels,” the Coast Guard statement goes on to say.
What has gotten the most reaction on social media is the next part of the statement that “vessels will only be able to transit Barnegat Inlet one vessel at a time.” Kopp said Monday, “It really depends on how vessels operate within the inlet. The more conscientious of the work that everyone can be, and careful and courteous, the less restriction will be needed.” He added, “If vessels aren’t navigating safely in a conscientious manner, that could necessitate the activation of the safety zone.”
Still, the March 29 press release was sent out to notify boaters that the safety zone is a possibility during the North Jetty repair project. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracted with Agate Construction to repair the Barnegat Inlet North Jetty beginning on or about April 14 and possibly continuing through November. The North Jetty was damaged during Superstorm Sandy. (The North Jetty is not to be confused with the South Jetty, which is the rock structure at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park along which the concrete walkway extends.)
Saturday’s press release goes on to list other pertinent information, that day and night, a crane barge and a rock barge will be spudded down for stabilization at the North Jetty with barge lights illuminated. “The navigable channel in Barnegat Inlet is narrow due to shoaling on the south side and in the center. Natural changes in the inlet typically cause the water to be deeper on the north side, near the damaged jetty.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dredge, Murden, is dredging the shoal during the month of March to widen the navigable area. Depending on the results of this dredging, a safety zone will be activated that encompasses the entire Barnegat Inlet.”
In the event of a safety zone that limits vessel traffic to one lane, the speed limit would be “the minimum speed necessary to maintain steerage,” the Coast Guard press release says. “Mariners wanting to transit the safety zone with more than one vessel at a time must contact the Sector Delaware Bay Command Center 36 hours prior to the intended transit time at 215-271-4807. Vessels needing to contact the on-scene tug can contact them on VHF Channel 16. Vessels should monitor VHF channel 16 for updated information on the operation.” Boaters are told to direct further questions regarding the North Jetty repair project to the Waterways Management staff at 215-271-4814 or the 24/7 Sector Command Center at 215-271-4807.
Updates will be published in the Local Notices to Mariners. Barnegat Light Mayor and commercial fishing fleet owner Kirk Larson said commercial fishermen were briefed on the North Jetty repair project at a recent meeting hosted by the Army Corps. The inlet “will be passable,” Larson said. “For big boats like mine, it will be one lane,” he said, but “as far as little boats, I don’t think there will be any problems. I’m talking about 15- to 25-foot boats. “Little boats can go right out the south way – there is a south inlet there, but it’s not deep enough for the big boats.” Larson said that “it will be something that we’ve got to get used to,” but “there’s not going to be somebody there with a red light. … Anybody with local knowledge is going to figure it out. If they want to go fishing, they’ll figure out a way to get out of here.”
Courtesy of— Maria Scandale firstname.lastname@example.org
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